You make the call

Why coach made the right call on third-and-2 against Vikings

Fans in Green Bay and beyond are still steamed over Green Bay's 23-20 loss to the Minnesota Vikings last Sunday. It was another in a handful of games this season that Green Bay had every chance to win, but lost.

A lot of venting (see Reaction to the Action and Letters to the Editor on has been aimed at Mike Sherman. The coaching staff definitely can share in the blame for the loss to the Vikings. The Packers got conservative in the second half and allowed the Vikings to get the momentum, and eventually the victory.

A lot has been made of Sherman's decision to call a running play on third-and-2 from Minnesota's 20 with less than a minute remaining in the game. Many feel that Sherman should have allowed Favre a chance to pass instead of handing off to Tony Fisher, who lost a yard on the play, which forced the Packers to attempt a field goal.

This reasoning will not be popular with Packers fans, but I agree with Sherman's decision to give the ball to Fisher in that situation. Yes, on the previous third down (third and 4), Favre passed for 10 yards to Antonio Chatman for a first down. But on the previous third-and-1 in the same drive, Fisher ran up the middle for 3 yards for a first down. And on the previous four third-down situations - all in the second half for Green Bay - Favre threw incomplete three times and fumbled a snap that was fortunately recovered by Fisher on the Vikings' 24. Ryan Longwell proceeded to miss a 42-yard field goal attempt, which he conveniently blamed on his holder, B.J. Sander.

I was at the game. The Metrodome can be deafening, especially on third down, for the Packers. Knowing that your quarterback is working with a second-year center who messed up a snap already, and the fact that Favre threw incomplete three other times on third down to kill drives, and your running back got a first down on the previous third-down attempt, what would you do?

I agree that Favre had the hot hand. He moved the Packers from their own 23 to the Vikings' 20 by completing 5 of 8 passes in the drive. But he also was nearly picked off by the Vikings on a bullet to tight end David Martin two plays earlier in the drive.

Sherman played the percentages and lost. He went on his gut feeling of what would work in that crucial third-down situation. It didn't work, but does that mean passing the ball would have based on Green Bay's other third-down situations in the second half?

Todd Korth is managing editor of and Packer Report. E-mail him at

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